There I was, feeling pretty accomplished about all this Near-O Waste stuff, when I read an article by Lindsay Miles: Can you be Zero-Waste and a Minimalist? Suddenly, our new way of life didn’t seem to make sense. We were buying very little packaging, and making very little trash, but our house was jumbled with things we didn’t need. I knew in that moment that I had to become a minimalist, or at least my version of one.
So for three weeks, I stayed up way past my bedtime and skipped my morning workouts in order to analyze everything we own; a project that would have taken a year if I hadn’t made the extra time. I started a discard pile in the playroom, which soon became a mountain. Literally, our kids would climb it. Mementos I’d saved, which were meaningful at the time but now seemed like clutter… things I hadn’t used since can’t-remember-when… clothes I knew, deep down, I would never wear again… books that had been collecting dust since college… and random computer cables all met their fate on the mountain. We ended up with one truckload of Goodwill items, another load bound for the recycling center, and four bags of actual trash. Sorry, Landfill, but they were bound to get there sooner or later.
If you’ve been to our house, or seen it on film, you know we aint livin’ in a magazine. Our house is… not an ordinary house. It’s actually two-thirds of my parents’ house that’s been remodeled, altered, cut apart, and pieced back together several times over the last half-century. Our house is small, humble, colorful, unique (a.k.a funky), and full of love. The funny thing is, it’s still full of stuff! But at least now it’s stuff we actually use or care about, and it’s a lot easier to keep it all organized.
How can this decluttered way of life last?
I’m diligent (that’s a nice way of saying it) about putting everything back where it belongs and making sure others do the same, which is a daily challenge.
I have a “no accumulation policy”, meaning I don’t (or try really hard not to) acquire things I don’t want or need. If someone offers me a business card, I take a picture of it and hand back the original. If I’m offered freebies, I say, “No, thank you.” And fortunately, many of the people in my life are aware of my crazy ways and grace me with consumable gifts (or gift cards, so I can *choose wisely*).
I’ve personally called every company that sends me junk mail to be removed from their mailing list. I’ve switched to paperless statements wherever possible, and when I receive an important paper, it gets filed immediately. If I do buy something new, I get rid of an equivalent item. So in theory, I will never have more than I do now.
When we “need” something new, we ask ourselves if we can fix the old one or find an alternative.
If we can’t find a solution, we wonder if we really need it. When our living room clock broke, we started checking the time on the DVR instead of buying a new one.
Best of all, I want nothing. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I want very little. It seriously feels so good! I pretty much have everything I need at this point in life and I love not buying things! When I do decide to bring something permanent into my house, I make a thoughtful decision and try to make that thing last forever!
HERE’S OUR HOUSE, LOOKING ITS BEST!
The Living Room:
Our Bathroom and Closet:
Kids’ Room and Playroom:
Funky Storage Spaces of all Shapes and Sizes:
The “Bar” (as we call it)
Disclaimer: We also have home-brewing equipment in our front shower, a closet full of tools that I haven’t dealt with yet, an outdoor camping shed that could use some Near-O Waste assessment, and a small attic I’m trying to forget about. Ahhhh! So my work’s not finished. (Is it ever?) But it feels good to have most of it done, and I loved looking at these pictures because our house doesn’t look *quite* so good at the moment!